Observations In Church

First, please let me say, this is not a religious post.

When I was a child my mother would take me and my three siblings to mass each week. In church, she would instruct us to behave. Behaving meant that we were to sit quietly and follow the direction of the priest. When he directed the parish to stand, we stood. When he said kneel, we knelt. And of course, we he said pray, we bowed our heads and prayed.

This was our expected behavior.

Of course, my mother wasn’t beyond bribing us. One time, during silent prayer, one of my siblings asked, “Are we behaving enough to go to McDonalds?” adding in after the snickers of the parish, “now?”

Fast forward many years.  My husband, a middle school teacher, comes home from work and asked, “Did the Catholic church start allowing beverages during Mass?” I made some water and wine comment. “Because I was listening to some seventh graders today and this one girl told a story about being late to church because her mom stopped to get her a Frappuccino.” I shrugged.

“She didn’t get to drink it though because she spilled it in the pew.” I stared.

“Frappuccino in the pew?”

“Yeah – but she didn’t clean it up because, you know,” in his best teenage girl voice, “God forgives.”

I was stunned.

Fast forward to Christmas Mass a few weeks ago, a mother with two teenage daughters next to us sat on their phones prior to the start of the service. About fifteen minutes in, mom pulls out bottles of Gatorade and they sit and sip through a good part of the service.

Today three rows in front of me, a man in his 30’s drank a Monster, texted, and scrolled through Facebook while our minister spoke about the need for even for five minutes of silence during our hectic days.

I must ask, when did phones, and drinks in church become acceptable? Next thing you know, we will have wine bars in the back.

The human body can easily sustain itself for an hour, about the length of the religious services I am writing about, without food or beverage. The human mind should be able to rest for that length of time too.

The benefits of delayed gratification, especially with children, include learning patience and working for a reward. By not teaching this concept, getting what one wants immediately becomes a terrible habit that leads to a “me first” approach to life.

The day my brother spoke during silent prayer we may have still ended up at McDonald’s for dinner, although I can’t be certain. He broke proper decorum. And my mom isn’t a push over…then or now.

Missed Fortune

The best part of Chinese food for me is the fortune cookie, not eating it, just reading that little slip of paper inside. Since I have known my husband, he always opens his cookie and says, “Help! I am trapped inside a fortune cookie factory.” Cheesy, yet funny.

So last evening when I reached across my kitchen table, my stomach fluttered with anticipation. I pulled apart the cellophane wrapper only to have the cookie go flying through the air! My heart sank as it crash crunched on my kitchen floor at the same time my half Lab, half Beagle dive bombed on top.

The cookie didn’t have a chance. Neither did my fortune. The old girl is fast when it comes to food.

Fast forward twelve hours. I keep watching her butt so when the time comes, I’ll know what fate has instore for me. She has been fed, walked, and snacked so much this morning that if she was human she’d ask if she was dying.

Finally, the blessed moment arrived and sticking out of her pile, which we have to pick up anyway as to not upset the neighbors, is the small, telling piece of paper. I had plastic gloves ready. My eyes watered from the smell yet finally I could read the words of wisdom I have been waiting for.

Help! I am trapped inside a fortune cookie factory!

Stressed Out

I am one of those people who do not handle stress very well. My personality leans towards order and in my life, I tend to plan. So when the best laid plans go array, it is not a pretty sight.

Let me give a few examples from the past week:

On the last day of the out of state music festival we got in the car to come home and the Check Engine light comes on. I don’t know about you, yet for me, car and computer problems are the worst, probably because in both situations I am helpless. My mechanic gave a diagnosis then suggested calling the dealer to see if any parts are on recall. My mechanic also mentioned that the part in question is just needed for emissions and I can put off getting it fix until then, if I chose. The dealer told me if I didn’t fix it my car would blow up.

Full confession, I already had one engine blow up on me and I didn’t want to go through a repeat.

Strike one.

In addition to writing my books, I also teach. I have my semesters planned out and usually about a week or so prior to the start, I check my technology to make sure everything is working. After all, why give “the kids” the excuse that the links failed so they couldn’t do the assignment. One institution decided to upgrade their system. Classes start on Monday and I am still waiting to get my course shell together.

Strike two.

The frosting on the cake came this morning. I have been doing business with a company for almost three decades. I called with an issue and the customer “service” (I use the term loosely) representative told me “as a courtesy I will give you a one-time refund.” I responded, “As a courtesy? You need a better word choice because what you are doing is proving customer service AND as a loyal customer, this will exist as long as I chose to do business with your company.” The conversation deteriorated from there. Never get a customer service rep off their script. Usually they can’t handle the pressure of communicating.

Strike three.

We live in a stressful world. We are bombarded by media by the minute. People overall are more aggressive towards each other. In many cases folks are working 24/7 because they refuse to disconnect from the world.

I really don’t know the answer yet I do know that frustration should not be ouIMG_20160613_105421r normal state. I’m the weirdo who doesn’t drink alcohol, do drugs, or eat sugar. My only vice is to dance. After a very frustrating day, my husband advised we should go to one of the last summer on the beach concerts. My first thought, out of pure frustration, was that he just wanted to go and he couldn’t possibly relate to my situation to even suggest we go out when I obviously have so much to complete in so little time. (Yes, that is my inside voice. Annoying, huh?) We went, only to have the music of the Rivergods calm me down. Life had a much better view after listening to live music.

Maybe that is the key…just listen to the music.

Today I write this at place I bought my car. They are re-diagnosing the problem. I listened to Will Evans Band on the way and stayed calm until the idiot in the Jaguar almost side swiped me off the road. Then I turned off the CD, said a very bad word, and stewed the rest of my journey.

A light jazz plays in background. The music isn’t danceable, yet it is still calming. Maybe one of my stressers will disappear. If not, I just need to find more music.

Not Fiction

Chicken burning on the grill. The sound of angry horns reverberating from U.S. 1 as people maneuver the asshole minefield known as summer at the shoreline.

Yesterday on I-95 my husband and I were driving in the left hand lane when an S.U.V. from Jersey went flying past us on the left. Yeah – you read that right, she flew passed our car between us and the concrete barrier. She then proceeds to cross two lanes in order to come to a stop in the “real” breakdown lane. I can’t make this stuff up. Less than five minutes later she passed us again using a legitimate highway lane. I somehow need to incorporate this imbecile into one of my books yet I don’t want to promote bad behavior.

You think this a rarity yet unfortunately, it is not.

Today while my husband took a bike ride near the water, another woman, in different S.U.V. pulled across the street to park going the wrong way along the water. Hey, that’s fine. She could have issues walking and just wants the view. I get it. Except her next move was to almost take my hubby out while she drove on the wrong side on the street for the next half mile.Guam With Mom 193

In my little beach community, the kids are trained to yell a warning when a certain driver comes down the street. His dented car tells the story of unmovable objects getting in his way. Back in May his side mirror came within inches of hitting my friend’s arm as we walked towards the water.

My other neighbor, er character, drives his lawn mower around his yard after nine at night while blaring bad 80’s music. (Is there good 80’s music? Never mind). This may seem like no big deal except he is driving his lawn mower in circles singing at the top of his lungs. We get this live performance at least once a week during windows open season.

There are other examples, too many to share here. Use your imagination, unfortunately anything you can come up probably takes place somewhere. (Remember Jack-Ass TV?) And the world is full of crazy drivers.

The funny part of all this is people come to the ocean to relax. They want to realign their chi, get centered, kick back with a couple cold ones, which are needed from all the stress it took to get there in the first place.

Wondering what my point is? I’m not too sure. Unfortunately, I didn’t make any of this up…truth is more entertaining (more to come on this).

Guilford’s Mid-Life Crisis

Preliminary draft 1 of Uncle Neddy’s is complete! (Yay!) I use the word preliminary because of how I create. I get my first run through of story ideas down and then print out a hard copy. The hard copy then becomes a detailed outline. Is there a story here? What is the point? How can the plot be made more intricate? What additions/edits are needed to make this real?

My methods have been criticized in the past. If I only outlined first I would save time and energy yet to me, outlining takes away the spontaneous moves my character’s make. I must be a plotter because I know I don’t plan.

Currently there is a vision…so yay!

Unfortunately, I think I lost one of my favorite writing spots today. There seemed to be more folks hanging out, not that I can blame them. The Marketplace has a fantastic tea bar (coffee too), fresh made pastries, sandwiches, salads, and such, and I have yet to eat something that wasn’t fabulous!

I did hang out for a bit yet as the crowd of soon to be high school seniors grew, I needed to leave, although I did wait and listen to the mid-life crisis activities of apparently many Guilford parents. Kids qualified everything from buying a new car to joining a tennis club as a mid-life crisis. My favorite came when a young lady started to explain how her father wanted to go to a concert that she planned on attending with her friends. “I mean, like, really…get your own friends and music! Could you imagine running into your dad during the show. Oh my gosh – he’d probably start dancing or something…”

Yep – us old folks need to be banned from concerts.

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The “Wall Of Tea” at  Savvy Tea

So here I sit, in a new place, Savvy Tea. Savvy Tea has two types of Green Tea iced plus two others, one black, one non-caffeinated. There is a plethora of loose teas too and the owner offered to put any tea of my choice over ice! (And I think they are playing Jason Mraz!)

Definitely a score.

I should thank the kids in crisis the next time I’m at The Marketplace or I’ll just write at Savvy Tea when in the area. The tour continues….

What is up folks? & Happy Summer!

In case you are curious – I have been busy this summer on my two current W.I.P.’s (works in progress) the first is another look into baseball this time from a fan’s perspective. The other is a humorous looks into one of our longest running rituals: the funeral. I know funerals and laughing do not go together, yet those who know me can relate to my warped sense of humor and well, it fits.

My other project is working with an 80-year-old shoreline debutante, to assist her with her life story. The story is unusual because it is a look into the war years from the perspective of privilege. She is also helping me understand lifelong feuds and gossip of the area I call home. Writing non-fiction has been quite the challenge for my active imagination!

My editor, Amanda, was back for a few weeks over the summer. She went through edits on my latest script and the FBI/Grateful Dead/Love story will make its debut early 2016 (YAY!).

Last, but not least, it breaks my heart that a Red Sox Are In First Place promotion was never in the stars for The Perfect Pitch. (The book is available on Amazon – the Sox are in the toilet!)

I hope you all are enjoying your summer! Peace out!

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Deflated Balls and Other Nonsense – 10 Ridiculous Reasons to Hate The Patriots

I missed a deadline and really hate to waste this one…

  1. The lead story on the national news has been Deflate Gate; a story that centers around under deflated footballs in the New England Patriots win over the Indianapolis Colts in the National Football League’s AFC championship game. Stress put on the word game. This was/is the lead story on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, etc the past few days. Are there more pressing things for legitimate news organizations to concentrate on than a game?

Ok – so this is professional sports, but the lead story? One has to wonder how I.S.I.S., the Keystone Pipeline, and other world happenings feel about getting spiked.  There must be many Patriots haters out there in the news industry. Let’s take a look…

  1. Now let’s get Spy Gate out of the way. The Patriots were found videotaping the opposing coach’s signals at games in September of 2007. Once caught the team proceeded to run the table and have an undefeated regular season, the first since the ’72 Dolphins who only played a 14 game regular season. (The Patriots lost to the Giants in the Superbowl in game number 18. The Dolphins are credited with a perfect 17 game season.)

Now seven years later retired NFL Bill Cowher on a national sports show admitted that The Patriots were not the only team used videotaping, they were the only team to get caught.

  1. The NFL changed the rules for Tom Brady. Several prominent journalists insist that the NFL rule changes regarding hitting the quarterback came in the wake of Bernard Pollard’s hit on Tom Brady at the start of the 2008 season. However we should note that concerns started to be raised in 2005 with a hit on Carsen Palmer’s knee. The rule was then changed to read “A rushing defensive player won’t be allowed to forcibly hit a quarterback below the knees.” The only change made after the Brady hit was to include “The clarification specifically prohibits a defender on the ground who hasn’t been blocked or fouled directly into the quarterback from lunging or diving at the quarterback’s lower legs.”

In other words, let’s have defenders avoid hitting quarterbacks in the knees. This really isn’t a bad idea considering quarterbacks are usually the face of a NFL franchise.

  1. Here is one I will give to Raider’s Fans yet the rule existed on the books far before the Snowball playoff game: the tuck rule. Fans of The Raiders, Redskins, and yes, the Patriots too, have had fumble recoveries over turned because of the tuck rule. The Patriot’s turnover in their favor, and some say the start of their dynasty, is the most prominent because it happened during a playoff game against the Raiders. One should note, however that in addition to The Patriots, both the Jets and the Broncos have taken advantage of this obscure rule during the regular season. So The Patriots have been both benefited and cursed by the tuck.

It is important to note that the NFL voted to eliminate the tuck rule in2013.

  1. Bill Belichick, a.k.a. the winningest coach in NFL history. If he hasn’t got the title yet he will have it soon. It is understandable not to like someone who avoids answering the questions he doesn’t want to answer. It is also understandable not to like someone who has a habit of winning. Think about Don Shula, Bill Parcells, and Tom Landry along with their respected teams of dominance. There is a reason Terry Bradshaw, Lawrence Taylor, and others are obnoxious – they are winners.

Belichick’s form of style is a combination of someone who is uncomfortable with small talk and the unintelligent. One cannot imagine him speaking about nothing and can understand why his response to ignorance is a glare, maybe a smirk, and then a non-answer.

Outside the required press conference Belichick is known to have a sense of humor. Those close to him claim he regularly will crack jokes and actually be personable.  His players love him as do a lot of opposing team players. If one is observant before and after the coach’s handshake at the end of a game, viewers will see opposing team players seek out the hoodied one for a quick word or two.  Why would a player seek out an opposing coach if they didn’t have some sort of respect for the man?

Winning is an expectation in New England and no one represents that expectation more than the head coach of The Patriots. Fans of opposing teams may hate Belichick yet given the opportunity to have him as your coach, I bet those fans would jump at the chance.

  1. Tom Brady, Tom Brady, Tom Brady. Same as the coach – if he is your quarterback you love him yet if not…well there could be a bit of man envy going on. Why shouldn’t there be? He is part of the winningest coach-quarterback combination in NFL history. The guy has a supermodel wife, adorable children, three Superbowl rings, and let’s not forget the guy is pretty good looking.

Tom Brady cannot help how much media attention he gets. If you ever wonder how often his name is mentioned during non-Patriot NFL broadcasts, play the Tom Brady drinking game. (To play the game, one would take a sip of an adult beverage every time a broadcaster says his name. If watching a national sports show on ESPN or Fox Sports, even outside of New England, one could become quickly intoxicated. 21 and older please to play.) The man-love this man gets can be nauseating for the non-Patriot fan. (Pats fans think Peyton Manning try to play the same game.)

The one fact most sports fans will admit to is he is one of the best to ever play the game. Brady’s name is spoken with the same reverence as Montana, Elway, Marino, Unitas, and in the modern football era, we must of course add Manning (Peyton, and maybe Eli too). The future Hall Of Famer is on his way to a sixth Superbowl appearance, most in the NFL by a quarterback and will certainly hold other records before his playing career is complete.

  1. Deceptive formations and other such feces. Isn’t the entire point of football to out maneuver your opponent in order to score more points and win the game? After the Raven’s lost to The Patriots in a playoff game Raven’s coach Jim Harbaugh claimed that Belichick used deceptive formations to win the game. Harbaugh went on to say that having a player who is usually eligible to catch a pass signal ineligibility is not a legal maneuver. Come to find out this tactic has been used several times by NFL and college teams and the technique is completely legal.

Doesn’t one find this interesting that only the losing team complain about these things?

  1. Speaking of loser’s The Indianapolis Colts have to be the biggest bunch of poor sports on the planet. First a bit of history – way back in Brady’s early years he and Belichick schemed to beat then quarterback and NFL pretty boy Peyton Manning on a regular basis. When The Patriots started to employ the no huddle offense, Indianapolis complained to the league that they didn’t have time to react with substitutions and it wasn’t fair. The league’s response was to create a rule that stated both teams must have time to substitute players. Now let’s jump ahead to Deflate-Gate. Which NFL team cried to the league? Could it be the one who lost by 38 points to The Patriots the day prior?

Former Colts G.M. and now ESPN commentator Bill Pollian cannot even enunciate the word Patriot correctly, let’s not even go into the snide comments he usually makes following this mispronunciation. We can also look to owner Jim Irsay’s recent Twitter campaign and wonder if this is just his way of getting back at the organization his teams have had little success against? Can you say poor sports?

  1. Since we are on the subject of poor sports, there are too many ex-NFL players turned commentators to list here who have suddenly become ball experts. They can’t get over their losses, whether it is a regular season, divisional, or Superbowl game. This goes back to The Patriots first Superbowl victory and although I refuse to give the guy any ink here – “Dude, you lost the game. Build a bridge and move on!”

Whiners of course are not limited to former opponents. Both broadcasters and institutions known for exceptional journalism have jumped on the anti-Patriot bandwagon. We will skip over ESPN for now, although their lines between commentators and journalists have pretty much disappeared, and look at a sports magazine tradition: Sports Illustrated. Recently S.I. ran a piece by Michael Rosenberg that claimed other teams have complained about the Patriots cheating for years with some coaches going as far as putting padlocks on the visiting team’s locker room at Gillette. He also went on to accuse The Patriots of still videotaping, cheating by using a giant television outside the stadium (which contents are blurred from a sideline view), and Robert Kraft getting a favorable schedule from the NFL every year. When pushed on a Boston radio show Rosenberg could not name a source and kept answering any questions with “Well people say.” Mr. Rosenberg, people say a lot of things.

Journalists are supposed to get as close to the truth as possible before publishing. “People say” just doesn’t cut it. Sports Illustrated readers deserve better.

#1.       This is easy. The haters exist because of jealousy. All The Patriots do is win consistently. They have a team first approach with players putting egos aside for the betterment of the organization and they get rid of their embarrassments (Aaron Hernandez was let go before his fingerprints dried.)

Haters will hate because at some point this country switch from getting excited about winners, to finding excuses for why they win. Hard work and dedication isn’t enough in our “everybody gets a trophy” world.

We will see what is said after Sunday – Go Pats!